Castleton Lyons’ Gio Ponti,
defending champion in the Grade I Arlington Million, will try to become the
first horse in history to win back-to-back renewals of the showcase event of
the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season to be contested Aug. 21.
In an e-mail sent to Arlington’s racing
office, trainer Christophe Clement’s assistant Christophe Lorieul advised, “Gio
Ponti will be coming for the Arlington Million as of now.”
Gio Ponti’s connections had
been considering both the upcoming Million and the Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar Aug. 28 prior to indicating a preference in the
e-mail sent Wednesday afternoon to Arlington
from Clement’s office.
“(Gio Ponti) worked yesterday
( Aug. 4 going five furlongs in 1:03.40 over a Saratoga turf course rated firm)
and I was very happy with the way he went,” trainer Christophe Clement said
Thursday morning while speaking at Saratoga. “He will have a more
aggressive work next week and then we will head to the Arlington Million.”
Officially, no horse in the
Million’s 28-year-history has been credited with back-to-back wins in the
internationally-coveted grass test over Arlington’s
world famous turf course.
Mrs. John Magnier’s
Powerscourt was first under the wire in the 2004 Million before being
disqualified and placed fourth for interference in the stretch. However,
in the 2005 Million, that same British-bred trained by Aidan O’Brien proved
best by three lengths and that result was allowed to stand.
Dotsam Stable’s John Henry is
the only horse to date to be credited with two Arlington Million wins, but they were not in
successive seasons. Conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally,
John Henry captured the inaugural Million in 1981 and returned to the winner’s
circle as a 9-year-old after the 1984 edition.